As with their view of baptism, Anabaptists differed from both the Roman Catholic tradition and the emerging Protestant churches in their view of community and definition of the church.
What is the Community?
The Anabaptists believed that entering the church should be a voluntary decision, implying a conscious decision and a commitment to follow Jesus' example in life. This view led to several conclusions widely held in the Anabaptist movement:
The Role of the Church
The Anabaptists believed that this body had an important role to play, and assigned it several tasks. For one thing, they took Luther's emphasis of the priesthood of all believers even further. Not only did people not need priests to communicate with God, the Anabaptists proposed that all believers had the power and authority to interpret the Bible! The community would decide what different texts meant, and not the centralized leaders or scholars within the movement. This was quite a radical idea, especially when you consider that about 90% of people at that time could not read and write.
Created 1998 by Derek Suderman